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Tippy Hedren's Life and Health Took a Turn after a Gallon of Water Fell on Her Head

Joe Akins
Oct 06, 2021
01:40 A.M.
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TV icon Tippi Hedren battled with headaches for several years, and after being treated by doctors, the actress thought she had found peace until an accident on set unleashed her worst nightmares.

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Tippi Hedren is one of the few stars left from the good old days of Hollywood; looking back at her life and career, the film star has nothing but thanks and gratitude even though there have been some bumps along the way.

Now 91, Hedren has featured in over 80 movies in a career spanning more than five decades, and fortunately, she gets to live to see her granddaughter, Dakota Johnson, continue her legacy.

A photo of Tippi Hedren as a young actress | Photo: Getty Images

A photo of Tippi Hedren as a young actress | Photo: Getty Images

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WHO WAS HEDREN?

Hedren is widely remembered for her roles in the Alfred Hitchcock movies "The Birds" and "Marnie" but the screen legend has other iconic roles during her well-diversified career.

Born Nathalie Kay Hedren on January 19, 1930, in New Ulm, Minnesota, Hedren grew up adored by her father, who gave her the nickname "Tippi," which is the Swedish word for "little girl."

Actress Tippi Hedren and her actress daughter Melanie Griffith posing with the lions at London Zoo, to promote the movie 'Roar', March 29th 1982.| Photo: Getty Images

Actress Tippi Hedren and her actress daughter Melanie Griffith posing with the lions at London Zoo, to promote the movie 'Roar', March 29th 1982.| Photo: Getty Images

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Arts and creativity had always been her passion, and when she was a little girl, Hedren looked for ways to express her creativity and tried modeling and even appeared in high school shows and local advertisements.

After moving to Southern California with her family due to her father's failing health, Hedren continued to find modeling roles in her new environment, and after graduating from high school, she enrolled in Pasadena City College, where she studied arts.

While studying, Hedren got her first acting role in the movie, "The Petty Girl," and despite a little role in this film, acting was not her priority so she relocated to New York in search of modeling opportunities.

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Actress Tippi Hedren, mother of Melanie Griffiths, star of the Alfred Hitchcock horror film The Birds sits astride an Elephant at her Saugus Animal reserve November 17, 1983 | Photo: Getty Images

Actress Tippi Hedren, mother of Melanie Griffiths, star of the Alfred Hitchcock horror film The Birds sits astride an Elephant at her Saugus Animal reserve November 17, 1983 | Photo: Getty Images

Moving to New York was a step in the right direction for the young Hedren, who started getting modeling jobs and graced the cover of several magazines. Her beauty and charms made it easy for her potential to be spotted out of the crowd.

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While her career was gaining momentum, Hedren found love and married a young actor named Peter Griffith in 1952. The couple welcomed their daughter Melanie Griffith and divorced in 1960.

After her divorce, Hedren relocated with her young daughter in search of greener pastures. While in Los Angeles, one of the adverts she had done caught the eyes of famous British director Alfred Hitchcock who gave her the role of her life.

Tippi Hedren during The 18th Annual Genesis Awards and 50th Anniversary of the Humane Society of the United States. | Photo: Getty Images

Tippi Hedren during The 18th Annual Genesis Awards and 50th Anniversary of the Humane Society of the United States. | Photo: Getty Images

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Upon seeing her talent, the acclaimed director signed her to a seven-year contract and offered her a leading role in the 1963 classic, "The Birds," which launched her into stardom. The movie won her a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer.

Her next success came with the 1964 film "Marnie," which starred Sean Connery. At this point, her relationship with Hitchcock reached a standstill, and the actress accused him of sexual harassment.

The British director vengefully decided to jeopardize her career after she stopped working with him due to his unprofessional behaviors. Despite his plot to throw her career under, Hedren's fame had proven to be beyond his reach.

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Tippi Hedren during 34th Annual AFI Lifetime Achievement Award: A Tribute to Sean Connery - Arrivals at Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States. | Photo: Getty Images

Tippi Hedren during 34th Annual AFI Lifetime Achievement Award: A Tribute to Sean Connery - Arrivals at Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States. | Photo: Getty Images

Trying to get her career together, Hedren appeared in Charlie Chaplin's final directorial project, the 1967 comedy "A Countess from Hong Kong," alongside other stars like Marlon Brando and Sophia Loren.

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The movie was a disaster and began what would be a period of dryness for the award-winning actress. In this period, Hedren only got roles in low-budget films.

The '80s looked like her days as an A-lister were long gone, but the actress continued to work and fortunately revived her career with roles in David O. Russell's "I Heart Huckabees" and "The Last Confederate: The Story of Robert Adams."

Tippi Hedren during ROAR for Wildlife Global Conference at The Shambala Preserve in Acton, California, United States. | Photo: Getty Images

Tippi Hedren during ROAR for Wildlife Global Conference at The Shambala Preserve in Acton, California, United States. | Photo: Getty Images

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THE ACCIDENT

For a long time, Hedren battled with headaches which caused her untold pain and discomfort. In 2006, the actress underwent spinal fusion surgery which went a long way in bringing relief and calm to her.

For the first time in a long time, Hedren lived without headaches, and to her, this was a miracle. Following her recovery, the actress was permitted to take on a non-action role of a woman dying of cancer.

While rehearsing for a scene in San Diego, a gallon of water fell from the ceiling and hit her on her head, bringing her back to her worst nightmare: headaches.

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Actress Tipi Hedren, mother of Melanie Griffiths stands on a hill overlooking her Saugus Animal reserve with a full grown male lion. November 16, 1983  | Photo: Getty Images

Actress Tipi Hedren, mother of Melanie Griffiths stands on a hill overlooking her Saugus Animal reserve with a full grown male lion. November 16, 1983 | Photo: Getty Images

Hedren tried all means possible to rid herself of the headaches and tried remedies such as chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy, medications, Botox injections, and nerve block injections, all to no avail. The headaches remained.

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In 2006, her personal attorney filed a personal injury lawsuit against the owner and lessee of the soundstage, but an error from her attorney meant the actress got no compensation.

In retaliation, Hedren filed a suit against her former attorney charging him with malpractice, and fortunately, an appellate court affirmed a nearly $1.5 million judgment in her favor.

Tippi Hedren attends the Rio Vista Universal's Valkyrie Awards and Holiday Party on December 16, 2017 | Photo: Getty Images

Tippi Hedren attends the Rio Vista Universal's Valkyrie Awards and Holiday Party on December 16, 2017 | Photo: Getty Images

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A LOVER OF ANIMALS

During her acting trip to Africa in the '60s, Hedren fell helplessly in love with the wildlife and became interested in the mistreatment of cats; she then decided to use her platform and fame to take action.

In the '70s, Hedren began working with several wildlife charities to aid their rescue and protection efforts by purchasing land in Los Angeles, where she built the Shambala Preserve, which houses rescue animals.

Her famous granddaughter, Dakota Johnson, reportedly said Hedren still lived with cats and tigers in her house even though the numbers had reduced from what they used to be. Her love for the wild is a lifelong affair.

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Tippi Hedren attends the Rio Vista Universal's Valkyrie Awards and Holiday Party on December 16, 2017 | Photo: Getty Images

Tippi Hedren attends the Rio Vista Universal's Valkyrie Awards and Holiday Party on December 16, 2017 | Photo: Getty Images

THREE GENERATIONS OF STARS

When Hedren, her daughter, actress Melanie Griffith, and granddaughter Dakota Johnson, who featured in "Fifty Shades of Grey" and a host of other movies, posed for a portrait, the world was able to witness three generations of Hollywood royalties.

The trio has continued to be active in the movie industry, but they owe all of that thanks to their matriarch, Hedren, who rose above all odds to set the pace for her girls to follow and build a legacy for themselves.

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